Australia Movie Review
AUSTRALIA: YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GO HOME AGAIN
With Australia, Baz Luhrmann and his favorite leading lady Nicole Kidman go to their homeland to make their latest film. It is set during WWII. It has action, sprawling landscapes, and a love story. They try to show the plight that the Aborigines were in at that time. But it ends up just being a generic movie complete with a happy ending.
Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) is a proper English lady who likes to ride. Her husband is in Australia running a ranch on a piece of land that they own. She wants it sold so she goes down there. She is taken to the piece of land, called Faraway Downs, by a man they call The Drover (Hugh Jackman). They arrive to find her husband has been murdered. The man running the ranch, Neil Fletcher (David Wenham) says that an Aboriginal man by the name of King George (David Gulpilil) has committed the crime. But Sarah comes to find that Fletcher is not a trustworthy man. Her other employees are Aborigines and one of them is a young boy named Nullah (Brandon Walters). She develops a strong bond with him. Sarah, Drover, and Nullah work together to save Faraway Downs from a man named King Carney (Bryan Brown) and to keep the authorities from taking Nullah to be trained in the military as a child soldier. Throughout this they become a family without realizing it.
The story wants to be epic and make its mark. But its drama just comes across as a tale that has been told before. Luhrmann tries to show the horrors that the Aborigines were subjected to. This included blatant racism, stealing children from the families and turning them into soldiers. They are referred to as the “Lost Generations”. But they are lost as the focus is more on the heartache that Lady Ashley and Drover are put through. Brandon Walters as Nullah knocks it out of the park with his performance. He is all innocence, optimism, and sweetness. He is truly captivating. Kidman and Jackman do their part. They show their hardships on their face, check. They fall in love, check. And they save the day, check. This is all blah, blah, blah. The movie was filmed exclusively in Australia as Luhrmann wants to show the beauty of the Outback. But some shots look they were shot on a sound stage. CGI seems to have had a hand in the film also. The eye candy comes in the form of costumer Catherine Martin's wardrobe for the cast. From Sarah's form fitting dresses to Drover's rugged attire, they are all standouts.
Instead of making the film about Lady Ashley and Drover, the movie would have truly made its mark by making it about Nullah and his relationship with his Grandfather King George. But that probably wouldn't be as marketable. It would have made for a more watchable film.
Baz Luhrmann and Nicole Kidman have proved that they can make beautiful music together. Their previous endeavor, Moulin Rouge, is remarkable in every way. They seem to have made a wrong turn with Australia. The true story about the Aborigines get lost in the predictable romance and obstacles that our leading lady and man encounter.